Suffolk pubs pray for good weather as beer gardens set to re-open with easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions
Pubs in Suffolk are preparing to take the first step on the road to normality next week, when beer gardens reopen as Covid-19 lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
Hospitality businesses have received the green light to serve customers outdoors from Monday, which will also see shops, gyms and salons in Suffolk and the rest of the country resume trading, as part of the Government’s roadmap out of the national lockdown.
Under the new regulations, pubs will be able to serve people with table service, while customers must adhere either to the rule of six, or up to two households forming a group of any size.
This week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the move was “fully justified by the data” and came as a net result of people’s patience and the ongoing vaccination programme.
“On Monday, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but inreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips,” Mr Johnson said in a Downing Street briefing.
The next stage of the Government’s roadmap is due to take effect on May 17, at which point pubs and hospitality venues will be allowed to seat customers indoors.
In Suffolk pubs have welcomed the imminent return of customers, but added that the rule permitting outdoor service only still brought challenges.
Duncan Tuhey, landlord of the Prince of Wales in New Street, Sudbury, said: “We have spent the last few months planning and making the garden nice, in anticipation of opening on Monday.
“Financially, I don’t expect it to be viable but, hopefully, the grants available will help the shortfall.
“We are very keen to get back open and welcome back our customers and get back to some kind of normality, as soon as it is possible.”
Pub company Gusto Pronto, which operates a number of businesses around Suffolk, stated its reopening plans varied from site to site, depending on the availability of outdoor space.
The Crown in Hartest will be open for pizza and drinks in its beer garden starting on April 16, from Fridays to Sundays each week, but The Fox in Bulmer Tye will remain shut until it can seat customers inside next month.
Roxane Marjoram, co-owner of Gusto Pronto with husband David, said: “We’re delighted that we will be able to welcome customers again from April 12.
“Only opening outdoors does put us at the mercy of the great British weather, so we can only reopen in a limited way and only at some of our pubs during this period.”
In Edwardstone, The White Horse confirmed it would reopen on April 29, along with its adjoining campsite and holiday cottages, having recently hired a new manager to run the pub.
Dani Mountain, who runs the Little Earth Project micro-brewery based at the pub in Mill Green, said: “We have been working hard over the last month or so to spruce up the site.
“We will, as we did last summer, be operating outdoors only. We’ll also have to do table service, which is the main difference between this year and last, and will mean myself and my partner Tom will be assisting quite a bit at the beginning.
“We have quite a lot of outdoor space, with a patio right outside the pub, as well as a large beer garden, so we’re definitely lucky, compared to many pubs, but with table service, we will still feel that financial strain of having extra staff on at all times.
“Last year, we made sure there was enough space for people to line up without issue, and would expect to do the same this year, if table service was not mandatory.
“We do not plan to reopen the kitchen at this time, but are working on getting a regular rotation of food trucks over the summer, with an aim to re-evaluate as the manager gets settled in.”